Dwayne Hodgson

A Portfolio

The work and adventures of Dwayne Hodgson,
+ Learning Designer & Facilitator at learningcycle.ca
+ Storyteller & Photographer @ thataway.ca

Talking (in) Turkey

Don't leave home without it....

Don't leave home without it....

Woke up thinking about Turkish grammar. 
Didn't take long. Don't know much about Turkish grammar.
But it made me think of Tanzania and the KiSwahili teacher who was explaining the 15 noun classes who made the observation that it's hard to match the adjectives and the verbs.
Then I was reminded about the French professor from Quebec who insisted on using the joual accent even though none of us knew what the hell he was saying and it occurred to me that thinking about all this stuff was keeping me from thinking about what I wanted to say. 
And isn't that just what grammar is all about? 

Well, not quite. Grammar is important!  But having parachuted into the middle of Istanbul with only our best intentions and our Lonely Planet phrasebook, we've been struggling with speaking Turkish. Okay, more like butchering it. 

Turkish is an old language that was re-organized with a Roman script as part of the first republican president's  secular reforms.. As Dr. Wik E. Pedia continues: 

The distinctive characteristics of Turkish are vowel harmony and extensive agglutination. The basic word order of Turkish is subject–object–verb. Turkish has no noun classes or grammatical gender. Turkish has a strong T–V distinction and usage of honorifics. Turkish uses second-person pronouns that distinguish varying levels of politeness, social distance, age, courtesy or familiarity toward the addressee. The plural second-person pronoun and verb forms are used referring to a single person out of respect....

Okay, now I'm thinking too much about Turkish grammar again....

But there is hope. So far, we've done remarkably well by using just a few Turkish phrases  -- merhabe (hello), teşekkür ederim (thank-you), istiyorum lutfen (i would like please)-- broken English and clueless tourist gestures. Most students speak at least a bit of English, and the shop owners have been very patient with us.

But I'm still tripping over my tongue to correctly pronounce:

  • the regular "s" vs. the "ş" (shh),
  • the "C" (said as a "j') vs. the " {C}{C}{C} {C} {C}Ç" ("ch-"), and
  • the i-with-a-dot ("eee") vs. the I-with-no-dot ("uh"), which poses a challenge for my middle-aging eyes...

On the other hand,  I've been surprised about how quickly I've started to understand a few words. For instance, the guys at the video game cafe who asked Isaac and I if we wanted  to have FIFA 15 with "playerone or playertwo"? Or the otobus driver who helped us get from the istasyon to the otel, or the taksi driver who swore so piously about the trafik problem....

Okay, I admit that I'm getting by on cognates right now. But thankfully there are a tonne of words that look just familiar enough to what I know of French or Arabic-influenced KiSwahili to get us started. The rest will come with practice. Iki türk kahvesi stiyorum lutfen!

inşallah, with enough hard work and the kindness of strangers, we'll be talking (in) Turkey before too long.  

Sonra görüşürüz!